and the only thing I can think is that I am going to die alone. Never experiencing a healthy happy relationship. And that I never was able to show you how I felt about you.
Once upon a time a less-than-stranger-less-than-friend friend described me as someone who lives perpetually with exclamation points hovering over her head. And for years I was that woman: excited; open; hopeful.
But two abusive lovers in a row really takes it out of a grrl.
It's funny-- not funny haha but funny interesting-- to think about how jealous you were of her; how much you hated her and how much you punished me for that... because in the end, you were both the exact fucking same. You both tried to contain me; repress me; get me to be less than I am. She did it by pretending I didn't exist. Distance and withholding were the outlines of her subtle but consistent abuse. It still surprises me when I meet one of her close friends who has never even heard my name... And you did it by yelling or storming out or locking yourself in the bathroom or ghosting.... Yours was the long con of constant monitoring of my actions and subtle if subconscious manipulation so I was afraid to go out or even have friends.
I promise I won't do it again....
At least she never fed me that bullshit Hallmark Channel line. At least she finally told me she couldn't connect. She couldn't love me. She could never really be in love with me... But still, you would lash out. And then, "I'm sorry. I won't do it again..." and even the even more sickening "You made me do this," because even though those weren't your exact words, you always danced around them claiming that I never stuck up for you or some other lie of a similar vein.
And after years of this, I have become what someone recently called me: a tight bud. Not a fabulous fucking flower but this wound up bud, afraid to let go and just open.
I want to remember what it was like to have exclamation points hovering over my head, before you and before her and her and her. I want to remember how I felt before I lived in this desert wasteland of panoptic queers. I want to let go of this image of our wedding, our marriage, our life together. I want to let all of your lies go-- that you won't do it again; that you love me- and just open. I want to open to the possibilities and to love.
I want to be what I am on the inside and what I know I can be: A fabulous fucking flower.
2008 showed me who she was from the very start. There was the early sleep so I could conduct research on a cold and windy New Year's Day in South Philly. There was the attempted break-in at 1:30am and the ensuing restlessness. She made me feel like a stranger in a strange land: a stranger to my body, to my city, to my career. That was the worst year I could have ever done, yet still I did it.
2009 hid her true colors by inviting me out to the local gay bar-- something I had wanted for more than a decade. She said all the right things at all the right times for a very short, very amazing time period. She was full of the highest highs I had yet to know. She was so life changing in bringing me into the academy and giving me the kind of sex I couldn't even imagine before that.
But then she showed herself in 2010 with a moment that haunts my memory still. She ended with silly pictures before a play about death.... the most apropos beginning/ ending that no one could have written it.
2011 was a red flag that I accepted with a disgruntled sigh. She was ushered in at a club with her friends who hated me and who I hated. She was over quickly and with way more drama than necessary.
2012 happened outside the Lex with champagne bought moments before at the corner store.... enough said.
Coughing and wheezing ushered 2013 into the world; a subtle sign that grief and sadness would be the theme of the year. She started at El Rio.... involved a violation of boundaries.... and then ended with a walk home after a booty call. I should have known then what turmoil I faced, but even 3 days in when you stopped speaking to me, I refused to see it. Silence in Hawaii; Silence on my Birthday followed... yet I kept coming back for more of 2013...
2014 started again at El Rio and with some level of naive hope. What I didn't know then was that, again, the hope I felt was some other woman's fate. She would finally get that commitment and love I always longed for...
2015 continued the theme, this time with a stranger who would quickly marry. Want to get married? Date me and you are sure to marry, move in with, or get engaged within 1 year!
You brought me so much hope in 2016 even though I felt your jealously from the first seconds. I still don't understand why you caused problems when there were none. I still don't understand why you turned on me in all of the moments we should have been closest. But, that was what 2016 brought-- abuse in the form of a jealous lover who would lash out because I had friends or community or anything.... 2016 was such a mind fuck because she brought this being who was all and everything I wanted but this being who would lash out at me for no reason.... This person who didn't trust me like she knew me when I was an addict, despite the opposite.... 2016 drenched me in disappointment. I loved you so much but you didn't trust me so it was an effort in futility.
And so 2017 started alone. So. Alone. I slept in the Kiwi version of Tahoe while bros partied. I awoke in the new year and visited magical places alone. so. alone.... and so 2017 proceeded. Alone. Even you ghosted me. again.
And this is why I am terrified. 2018.... starting the same way..... starting alone and with tears.... I am not sure which is more pathetic: the fact that I started 2017 thinking of you.... or the fact that I started 2018 that way too. I feel like an idiot for still fantasizing about our wedding.... about our flash mob engagement, our wedding with your beautiful face looking at me when we say "I do" and our reception with a bouncy house.... and our honeymoon to Fiji and then our life together.... our beautiful life together.... I feel like an idiot thinking this would happen with you or anyone... I feel like an idiot for thinking that just because I feel like I am a pretty good person means anything.... like all that has happened in the last 10 years means anything. Like this is a cause and effect world. It's not.
so, 2018... what you got? because all I want is her.... still.... but I can't handle another 2016 or 2017....
The rain hits the windshield in light drops; almost unnoticeable. You reach over and take my hand. I can feel you smile even without looking over. Your warmth radiates as I move to the right lane. I'm in no hurry and I just want to be with you. We reach my tiny and it feels like home... our home, even though I built it. It's like you were always meant to be there; like you were always there when I dreamed her.
We run inside to escape the now heavy rain and I think of this time last year. I think of how lonely it was. I think about the stress of flood evacuations and the grief of loss. And in that moment, I feel your hand on my back. My mind rushes back to now. To you. To the tingles radiating from your fingers, up my back, down my legs. And the militant presence you exude. Your sweet confidence reminds me that I am safe; I am whole; I am loved.
Your locks brush my shoulder as you kiss my temple. We don't speak. We don't have to. Instead we go about our day. We laugh and dance and cook and chat and do nothing and make sweet love and fuck and all of the things and none of the things. There is no effort in your presence. We just are.
And at some point, I turn to you. Or you turn to me... I can't remember which... you look deep into my eyes. You gently stroke my cheek and kiss me deeply. You tell me you love me. or I tell you. I really can't remember.
Because when you say those words, it's like I've heard them
in my heart over and over since the first time we touched hands awkwardly on our first date- just to feel each other's skin. And when I say those words it's like they've always lived in the back of my throat. Waiting for you. Waiting for this moment in Guerneville. Like everything-- the heartache and the fights and the silence and the ghosting and the shitty dates and the nights alone and the wondering if I would be alone forever-- this everything was just waiting for you.
It's not a big deal, even though it is really a big deal. It's just that we finally found home. And we both know that.
And we fuck and nap and laugh and make love and kiss and do all the things until we fall asleep in this tiny house we created in our hearts.
Watching the waves roll in and out, I feel my pulse slow, my toes sinking into the sand, my breath matching the rhythmic in and out of the moon.
I think back to when you told me you two had spoken on the hill. I can't remember if it was a passing comment or a knowing nod, but I remember it made me sick. Because you both had the chance. You both chose other paths, so you don't get to say that.... You don't get to say anything about unspoken expectations but obviously I do.
I expect that you are kind to your lover.
I expect that you are honest.
I expect that you don't ghost.
I expect that if you aren't feeling it, you let me go.
I expect that you don't sleep with your ex.
I expect that when you get a plus 1, you take me.... your girlfriend.
I expect that you act like an adult, emotionally regulate and practice distress tolerance.
I expect that you don't throw a tantrum or throw your food because you don't like it.
I expect that you show up when we have plans.
I expect that you speak needs and communicate like an adult.
I expect that you trust me when I have always shown you I am trustworthy through my actions.
I expect that you don't talk shit to all your friends about me.
I expect that you don't say mean things to me.
I expect that you don't body shame me.
So, this is just a start of the unspoken expectations that should never have to be spoken.... On the hill, or in bed or anywhere at any time.
I stand at the sink, finishing up with the dishes. I turn and exhale. Butterflies stir in my soul but I don't feel nervous. I know I am waiting for you. And you are worth this second, minute, hour, week, month and year.
A firm knock at the door calms the butterflies. I open the door and feel like I am both floating and sinking into the ground, toes curling with anticipation. Before I can inhale again, I feel your lips on mine and the smile that was resting in my heart explodes out of my teeth, tongue, lips, mouth. Your smile envelopes me when we part....
"hey beautiful!" You say with eyes sparkling.
My eyes dart but you bring them back by a soft touch with your hand. It starts on my forearm but quickly finds its way to my hand as we make our way inside, to the couch.
Your locks fall over your cheeky smile as our eyes meet and we start talking about our days, in the most routine and novel way. It's like we have had this conversation hundreds of times, and even this, the 701st time feels completely new.
You lean back against my pillow- the one I bought before I knew you. The one with the trailer and the hearts. I instinctively lean against you, placing my ear on your chest in that spot that fits so perfectly, between your breasts and just below your sternum.
We are silent for a moment and I can hear our future in that white noise silence. Like putting my ear to a shell, the in and out rhythm of the past and future pulses from you in sweet waves that make me feel like anything is possible.
I don't know when that moment ends and the conversation begins again. I don't know when the words turn into sweet carcasses and carnal grasps. I don't know when our love turns to holding hands while sleeping. I don't know when I know I love you or when I know you love me. I don't know when we start planning our life together. I don't know when my "sad" playlist starts to seem like a silly reminder of a younger me who didn't know who was waiting so soon in the future. I don't know when I realize that this was the easy knowing that everyone always talks about.
I just know that I can hear the most distant time of human existence when I put my head to your chest. I just know that I can see to eternity and back when I look into your brown eyes. I just know I can feel what that word safety means between the lines of your fingers.
And I just know.
in progress but finally writing again
When I was a kid, on summer evenings like this, we ran around in the back yard, just on the edge between the trees and the lawn, catching fireflies. I would catch them and watch them as they crawled up and down my arms, spreading their wings slowly and taking off. I would catch them again, and on occasion, I would capture them in a jar or I would smash them on my arms, just to keep their florescence for a few seconds longer...just to keep them till the morning.
And just like the attempts to capture their glittery lighted up -ness, it was a losing battle... with me, with you, with her....
I am just a firefly. On again. and off again... and gone in the morning.
I sat and watched her from across the pool. She didn't know I was watching her, and how could she? She was a zombie; curled in on herself, just as I had been for so many months- A firefly in the late morning sun. It reminded me of watching the video of that wedding we attended when we were supposed to be connected, my body collapsing in on itself with fear and defeat.... knowing I had betrayed myself again, seeking the permanent florescence of the firefly...
And she made the same mistake.... I am that one she will regret because she got distracted by my temporary florescence. They always do. Like I did with you, and you did with me, even thought you would never admit it. They think I love them for all my flashing on and off and on and off and on again.
But I am just a firefly.
and off again.
But before you know it, it will be morning, and I will be gone.
Work in progress....
I spent so long getting grounded but then you just walked in and snipped my anchor and now I can't help but feel the circular feel of the spiral that I love-hated for so long.
I spent the 3.5 months we were together feeling happier and more grounded and less distracted than I ever have... You were like the pink cloud I never had when I got clean 8.5 years ago. But then you just walked away... or I did... or we both did...
and now I am anchorless.
Trying not to call you.
Observing the world down there.
Missing you. Missing passion. Missing giving a fuck. Missing wanting to run away....
Missing the love-hate groundedness of waiting for the anchor-less moments
but at least I am writing... baby steps.
I sit here, lay here, stand here, curl here.... wishing I could call you; knowing you don't even know who the you is of which I speak. You probably think this is some lover of the past, who I long for, pine for, miss with all of my body and soul... or maybe you think this is an amalgamation of lovers past and present... perhaps you are sure this is about you.... or even still, there is a chance you don't even read this bullshit.
The end is always me crying, but not in the way that you would imagine... or maybe it's exactly how you would imagine the downfall of this cancer plays out.
I cry the ugly cry.
I know- hard to believe, eh?
And it's not like we never talk again... It's more just a subtle shutting down, closing in, quieting... And my inner fire dies and my eyes ice over and my chest feels that sinking slow numbing... and I am done.
It happened with her when John died, and her when I couldn't get a job at a temp agency after a phd and 4 years on the academic job market, and it happened with her after that conversation about my tiny home dream and the canceling of my class, and with her when we had drank too much during the day and felt the need to spew all that we had been holding onto for a year and a half or three.
And one or all or none of them is you.
So, I feel myself numb in that sinking, tingling way, wanting to text you.
And I miss you. I miss what I thought you could be. I miss what you were. I miss what I know you can be. I miss who you are. I miss what I imagined we would grow into and I miss wanting to try.
I miss hope.
Even though it was rarely there.
So I sit here, lay here, stand here, curl here.... alone. wishing more than anything, that last word weren't the ending.
But know it is and will always be... so I sit here, lay here, stand here, curl here... and shut. it. down. for good here.
I said "I'm open to anything. You can ask me anything." And then I stayed open and answered anything, aware that so many of them would filter because of my title... my position. And I felt totally fine; totally safe. And then I walked out the doors, wide fucking open.
Vulnerable: it's the word of the week.
Remember when you told me you were a bad girlfriend. I couldn't really understand what that meant at the time. Was it a warning? a concession? an out? Yes. All of those things.
So, I walked out the doors, wide fucking open; bright eyes; vulnerable. I sat there, stood there, paced there waiting for you. I should have known then, but my heart protects my brain and vice versa.
Vulnerability presented itself in the form of grief so I settled in, comfortable in this comfort-food moment like an old pair of Fluevogs or a worn-in corset.
Remember when you leaned over to kiss me? or when I leaned over to kiss you? And we both made the decision to go there. Again.
The evening continued in the way our connection has. We spoke of former lovers as current lovers danced in our minds, radiating from our fingers. We spoke of race and class and love and sex... you uncomfortable in your comfort; me comfortable in the distance.
Remember when I felt your fingers on my skin, underneath me and I thought: how much more vulnerable could I have gotten? I let you hold my hand and I curled in as much as you would allow. I failed as usual.
Skin flowed over skin; heart over heart. We melted into each other; both elsewhere... both thinking of her or her or her or her. Perhaps you aren't seeing from the right angle...
Vulnerability was the word of the week...
Thoughts about womyn, bodies, performance, life, play, and general randomness.